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Re: Opposition giving itself too much financial credit, by Chris Nelson, July 10. You can often tell more about opinion writers by what they leave out rather than what they include. That’s certainly the case with your recent piece by Chris Nelson.

While focusing on the financial challenges faced by the province, he chooses to ignore the elephant in the room. And this elephant is big. It’s a $4.5-billion dollar elephant – in the shape of the cost of massive tax cuts being given to already profitable corporations in Alberta.

Of course, Nelson is only too happy to complain about working Albertans who belong to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and work hard for modest wages, providing vital front-line services for the people of this province.

In Nelson’s view, it’s wrong for these working people to seek an independent, third party to examine their claim for a modest increase after two years of wage freezes.

It’s wrong for them to want their employers and the government to stick to a legally binding contract. It is wrong for them to seek to preserve a basic right protected in the Canadian constitution.

It’s wrong to have a trained arbitrator examine both sides of an issue, including the state of the province’s finances, and come to a fair decision. It’s wrong to rely on that arbitrator’s expertise, rather than on the rhetoric of politicians.

The questions for Nelson and for Premier Kenney are:
• How can Alberta afford to give $4.5 billion to corporations (many foreign owned) already making profits if it can’t afford modest increases, or may even cut wages, for Alberta workers?
• Why does the UCP government need to study the economic situation before even thinking about the workers, but seems to have all then economic information it needs to move ahead with corporate giveaways?

(If you’re waiting for then “trickle-down” effects of corporate tax cuts to reach us workers, don’t hold your breath. Corporate tax cuts aren’t invested, they’re paid out as executive and shareholder bonuses or stored in offshore accounts to avoid further taxes.)

It’s clear that both Nelson and Kenney care more about corporate profits than about people.

Working Albertans in the public and private sectors have suffered greatly in the recession. Nelson and Kenney now want to make them suffer more and pay for a situation they did not create, while giving massive, unearned rewards Alberta cannot afford to corporations which do not need them.

That’s unfair. If there’s one thing we’re seeing from the support AUPE is getting for it’s fight against Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, it’s that the majority of Albertans don’t like unfairness and they don’t like corporate greed.

(Bonnie Gostola is vice-president of AUPE, which represent 95,000 working Albertans.)

This letter to the editor has been published in the Okotoks Western Wheel and submitted to the Lac La Biche Post in response to a column that ran in those publications.

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